Dateline 1 April 2016

 

General Comments

Peter Flower

It is the aim of the Newsletter to report not only on the society's events but also about the activities of its members, including any successes they had in having their work published or receiving awards in external competitions. Readers will be aware of some recent examples featuring Tony Peacock, Dave Lyon and Ian Hunt. I should also mention the fact that Don Morley, as a result of his lengthy career in professional photography, very often has his work featured in magazines and that aspects of his life story are often mentioned in articles. At the present time he is the subject of a two-part article in Trail magazine about his involvement in competitive motor-cycling. Our ability to publicise these success stories is not only of interest to other members but also an added incentive for others to join our thriving society.

If you have any success stories to tell please let us know.

In the Newsletters we normally publish a full report on weekly activities, with the exception of competition events. Due to unusual circumstances no notes were taken on the evening of 7 March 2016. As a result we apologise for the fact that a report of this event is not available.

Canon EOS 1300D

Techman

Canon has announced its latest entry-level DSLR, the EOS 1300D. This model is a relatively minor update to the EOS 1200D. It adds a faster Digic 4+ processor, higher resolution LCD, 'white priority' WB mode (which produces more neutral colour in tungsten lighting) and wi-fi with NFC. This will enable users to control the camera remotely via wi-fi with the Canon Camera Connect smartphone app and easily share images in an instant using the NFC function. It retains the same 18 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, 9-point AF system, Full HD video capture and numerous scene and creative modes as its predecessor. The initial price will be £289, body only, or £369 with an 18-55 IS II kit lens.

Viveca Koh

Peter Flower

I was surprised, but also charmed, by a recent email that I received from Viveca. She was writing to me in respect of a talk that she gave to the society in January 2014. Members who were around at that time may well remember her talk on the subject of 'Urb-Ex'. This is the short-hand term for urban exploration, an activity that involves enthusiasts in visiting and photographing unoccupied and derelict buildings. Many will be familiar with the photographs of derelict and abandoned old buildings from the past. Classic popular examples have included those such as long-abandoned homes in the dust-bowl states of America and sand-filled houses in the Namib desert. Nearer to home, disused factories and buildings have been a popular subject. However, the majority of these have been photographed from the exterior or where open access is readily available. The challenge for UrbEx 'warriors' is to gain entry to buildings where access is not obviously evident. The challenge is to identify and gain access to new prospects before other members of the UrbEx community.

Viveca wanted to use my report of that event on her web-site, but was unable to access it directly because the Newsletter containing it was no longer available on our own site. However, I do have an archive of the original report text on my computer and was able to supply Viveca with a copy. She has now posted this information in the form of a blog which can be viewed at the following link. Viveca sent the following message -

'Hi Peter,

You can see the blog post with your report here: http://www.vivecakohphotography.co.uk/2016/03/13/report-of-my-lecture-at/

Once again, many thanks for writing such a detailed and excellent review :)

Best wishes, Viveca'

If you read Viveca's blog you will note that the society is mentioned, together with details of how anyone can access further information about us, further useful publicity.

Note: Viveca will be visiting us to give another talk on 31 October 2016.

 

Get Creative! - 14 March 2016 – Organised by Jill Flower

Report by Peter Flower

The objective of this fun competition is to modify images that have been supplied, using Photoshop or other post-processing applications. Four images were supplied by Stephen Hewes, winner of last year's event. Modifications can vary from the relatively simple ones with the use of special filters to rather more complex ones where individual elements are moved around. In some instances elements from more than one of the original images were combined to great effect.

Several members had taken up the challenge and something over thirty digital images were shown. Initially these were shown, with comments being given by their originators. Then they were shown twice, with numbers allocated, so that the members of the audience could vote for their favourite image.

Congratulations go to the overall winner, Cass Elbourne, who had cleverly combined elements from all four photographs into her entry. The second place went to the 'dynamic duo' Anthea Post and Rosemary Calinnan who had made some joint entries. Jill had persuaded them in a recent conversation that they should have a go. They will be very happy that they took up the challenge and with coming a very close second in the markings.

The original four images and all the competitors' entries can be seen on our Flickr pages. The winning images are shown below.

Alvishill by Cass Elbourne       Ghost Walk by Rosemary Calinnan and Anthea Post

 

Action this day !

Please make notes in your diary of any of the following events that are of interest to you. Also, contact the organiser for any further details or to inform of your intention to attend. This information is also available from the special notices on the web site.

Extra Events Programme

This is a mix of social and photographic events, including events intended to give members a chance to try something new, and above all, to go out and take photos.

Saturday Natter - 2 April 2016 – organised by John Fisher

A regular meeting at Denbies Cafe, Dorking, on the first Saturday of each month for a leisurely natter to discuss matters photographic. Bring cameras and manuals and anything else for discussion, sharing of tips and all the stuff we run out of time to talk about during the intervals during club nights.

Annual Lunch – Saturday 7 May 2016 – organised by John Fisher

Rather than a dinner event we will have a lunch-time meal at our regular venue of Denbies Cafe, Dorking. The idea is to meet up at 11:30am for the lunch. Please let John Fisher know if you will attend so that table reservations can be arranged. The cafe does get very busy at lunch-times so it is essential that reservations are made if we want to be able to gather together as a group. Members will be free to order their own food at the time. Following lunch the plan is to venture into the Denbies estate and to visit the nearby Stepping Stones.

 

Main Programme Event – confirmation

Information from Carol Hicks

On 16 May John Fisher plans to organise a critique evening, when members can debate the good and bad aspects of images you are prepared to offer for discussion. Odd and quirky images particularly welcome. Please send John sample PDIs that you are happy to be reviewed. If he wants to use your images John will contact you. He would appreciate receiving images now, so he can plan the event.

 

Street Photography – 21 March 2016 – Don Morley

Report by Peter Flower

For the benefit of newer members and those who do not know about Don's history in photography it should be explained that he was for decades employed in professional photo-journalism. Although a large part of this involved sports photography, especially in motor-cycling and coverage of Olympic events he also covered areas of conflict such as Northern Ireland and Aden. The list is far too extensive to mention here, but suffice it to say that he spent a very long time honing his skills in a very competitive world where getting good images and working to tight publishing deadlines was all-important. Although he has been retired for some time he carries over these skills and disciplines into his current photography and it was many of these that he imparted during this evening's talk.

He started with mention of another professional photographer who became one of his heroes. This was Bert Hardy, another photographer who worked for the press on reporting assignments, but was perhaps best known for his social documentary work.

Bert Hardy (Image from the internet)

Much of this was published in the Picture Post magazine which was published in the United Kingdom from 1938 to 1957. In many ways it was the UK equivalent of America's Life magazine. In addition to news stories it featured photo-journalistic documentaries on different aspects of society, many of which were produced by Bert Hardy. Hardy was self-taught and used a Contax 35mm camera, unconventional for press photographers of the era. (Refer to additional notes after the end of the report) He became the magazine's Chief Photographer after earning his first photographer credit, a 1941 photo-essay about Blitz-stressed fire-fighters. However, perhaps his most iconic photograph came about following the announcement in 1951 by Picture Post of a £10,000 photo competition with a massive £1000 first prize. Bert, who had stated that it wasn’t the camera but the person behind the camera that made a good picture, found himself in the position of having to prove it. He was dispatched to Blackpool. Using a Box Brownie, with just the minor adaptations of a close up lens, a yellow filter and an improvised cardboard viewfinder Bert roamed Blackpool’s Golden Mile looking for images. He searched without great success until he hit upon the idea of asking the showgirls from the Pier Theatre for help. He staged a carefully posed photograph of two of these young women sitting on railings on the breezy Blackpool promenade. The photograph taken with the simple Box Brownie resulted in the most famous image of his entire career. This, and another example of his work, Gorbals Boys is shown below

Editorial note: It is our practice to attribute copyright where possible. These images were captured from readily available internet sources where there was no indication of this.

Don showed example of Hardy's images which appear in a book on his career. Many of these featured street scenes in various different cities. Don mentioned the difficulties of recording similar scenes in modern times. Despite the fact that we live in a selfie-obsessed era there can be a very adverse attitude to being photographed by anyone else. The antagonism can come not only from individuals with children (or who see you photographing them) but also from uniformed 'jobsworths' who are not properly informed about the reality of the law on this subject. Don recalled an incident in which even policemen demanded that images should be deleted from photographers' cameras. Don showed reproductions of documents that clearly set out the law. Fortunately, clarification notices have been issued to all police authorities that make it quite clear that photography in public places is lawful and that there is no right to demand the deletion of any images from the camera.

Having said this, taking photographs of other people can still give rise to confrontation, even if you are within your legal rights to do so. Sometimes the situation can be defused but if possible it is obviously preferable not to let this arise. Avoiding drawing attention to yourself in a street situation is the best strategy. Don mentioned a number of pointers in this respect. Perhaps the most obvious is the choice of camera. A bulky DSLR camera fitted with a zoom lens is likely to attract attention, especially if the photographer is using the viewfinder and pointing directly at the subject. Don showed a method by which a similar camera fitted with a typical kit lens could be held in different positions, relying on experience with estimated aim to capture the subject. This could be a bit hit-and-miss but he reckoned on quite a high success rate after practice with this method. However, advantage could be taken of situations where the subjects were distracted without resorting to any difficult camera angles, as illustrated by these photographs taken in Reigate.

© Don Morley

Using more compact cameras was preferable in many cases. These were less likely to attract attention but many also had the advantage of viewing screens, and even viewfinders, that articulated in different ways. These gave the advantage that it was not necessarily obvious where the camera was being pointed. It was also possible to vary the viewpoint, from a high to a very low one, whilst still being able to frame the scene accurately. In Don's case he often took advantage of using his earlier Leica M8 and current M9 cameras which look much like the older style rangefinder ones. The M9 is a full-frame model. Fitted with high-quality lenses these gave excellent image quality, whilst still appearing quite discrete. The following picture collage illustrates this point.

© Don Morley

There were circumstances in which it was desirable to use longer focal length lenses in order to frame people close-up and with differential focus to eliminate distracting surroundings or backgrounds.

© Don Morley

Although it was possible to take advantage of many of the automatic features on modern cameras Don advocated caution in placing too much reliance on these. It was important to understand exactly what these were doing. In many cases he preferred to use the manual controls in much the same way as he had done in the past when these were the only option available. It is not possible to cite all of these within the limitations of this article but just a few examples are given. The use of autofocus could give undesirable results if not used in the right mode. The classic case was in a landscape photograph where the point of focus might not give the desired depth of field. Don was very critical of unintended out-of-focus foregrounds. In most situations, if total sharpness front to back could not be achieved, it was less noticeable if the background was allowed to go slightly soft. It was regrettable that most autofocus lenses did not have the kind of markings as shown on the following example.

It will be readily seen that this lens clearly shows that by focussing at about ten feet (the so-called hyperfocal distance) it is possible to have a depth of field from about 6 feet out to 25 at a setting of f/16. The following charts show two examples of the difference that both the choice of aperture and hyperfocal distance can make to the total depth of field. (These are for Canon DSLRs with APS-C sized sensors – e.g. EOS 600, EOS 7)

Using this information it was possible to pre-set the camera for use in street photography, where quick reactions were desirable. It was his practice to set a focus distance on manual which would, together with an appropriate aperture, give him a reasonable depth of field. He could also pre-set an acceptable shutter speed for hand-holding the camera and to take care of any likely subject movement. Any slight variation in light conditions could be taken care of by setting the ISO to change automatically, but with an upper pre-set limit.

In order to capture those fleeting moments it was necessary to be observant and to have the camera ready for immediate action. Don's advice was to have the lens cap off, protect the lens with a plain filter, and leave the camera switched on. On the subject of filters, he was not in favour of these unless absolutely necessary. When questioned about the use of polarising or graduated filters he said that he rarely used them. Don is known for his insistence on using the best possible lenses available, and it arguable that any additional glass surfaces in front of a lens can cause image degradation.

In a street situation, where quick reactions were required, it was advisable to use a wide angle or short focal length zoom lens (the type often supplied as a kit). Where photographs could be taken at more leisure it was possible to consider longer focal lengths and wider aperture lenses in order to obtain differential focus. Regarding exposure values in general, Don advocated slight underexposure. Blown highlights could never be recovered in post-processing whereas it was usually possible to pull up detail in shadow areas. His practice was to record images in both RAW and jpeg, but if the jpeg was satisfactory then he would subsequently ditch the RAW one. The final point – on no account use the 'green square' setting. The danger is that the flash will go off unintentionally, immediately drawing attention to yourself.

Some other points – Don likes people in his landscape pictures, as per the following examples -

© Don Morley

Don had brought a selection of cameras and lenses which he talked about and made available at the tea break for members to inspect and discuss. Amongst these was an original Box Brownie, a model that was Don's first camera and of the type that would have been used by Bert Hardy. There was also a 1929 Leica 1, a modern Leica M9 and a couple of Canon DSLRS with a large zoom lens (as seen being used by professionals at sporting events) and kit lens. Jill and I had also brought along our Panasonic LX8 and Olympus PEN EPL-7 models as examples of the well-specified but more compact models currently quite popular. Don also had a book - Bert Hardy's Britain by Colin Wilkinson – from which members could see the variety of photographs that had been taken during projects in this country.

Summing up, from his decades of experience as a professional photographer, making the transition from film to digital, and familiarity with cameras of so many different makes and types, he has the ability to impart so much valuable knowledge which is of relevance to all of us. This was a very informative and entertaining evening which closed with well-deserved applause from an appreciative audience.

Not perfect, but just an example of me practising what Don was preaching! Some grab shots taken during the tea break.

 

Additional information of interest

Peter Flower

Whilst researching additional information about Bert Hardy I came upon an interesting article published on the web. It can be found at this link -

http://www.photohistories.com/Photo-Histories/50/the-life-and-times-of-albert-hardy-1913-1995

Note: A word of warning. Throughout this, and many other web-based articles about Hardy, repeated mention is made of his 'Leica' camera. As will have been seen from an early portrait of him in the article above he has a Contax camera. The article from which I quote below is inconsistent in this respect. Although the early quotes refer to a Leica camera there are several others mentioning incidents from World War 2, the Korean war and the wedding of the future Queen Elizabeth to the Duke of Edinburgh in Westminster Abbey that all mention a Contax camera. It isn't until the first state visit to France by Queen Elizabeth II on April 8th 1957 that mention is made of Hardy hiding his Leica beneath an oversized dinner jacket in order to gain access to the Opera House that night. Picture Post did not have accreditation for the event so Hardy had to use this ruse in order to gain access. Inside he found a position with a view of the grand stairway lined by the Republican Guard and began taking a series of shots working from left to right, and from top to bottom, using a 50mm lens making sure all of the photographs overlapped. His final image captured the French president, René Coty, as he escorted the Queen up the stairway. Back in London in the Picture Post darkroom on Shoe Lane, Bert’s photographs were pasted together to produce a panorama which was published in Picture Post on April 20th 1957. It truly is an amazing picture, resulting from Hardy's resourcefulness.

This picture was obtained from an internet source

I am indebted to Photo Histories for some detailed information that I quote below. In order to understand the significance of this I need to point out a number of facts. The cameras of this era did not normally have flash synchronisation of any type. It was also a fact that film speeds were extremely low compared to those that we enjoy with digital cameras. Most press photographers used bulky plate cameras of the Speed Graphic type, and then later twin-lens reflexes like the Rolleiflex. I had read elsewhere that Hardy overcame the shortcoming with some measures of his own and was intrigued as to how he had done this. The article from which I quote provides some of the detail -

Moore used a 35mm Leica. Amazed at the detail in Moore’s prints Hardy saved up and bought a second-hand model – probably a Leica I – which he described as old, black and with a fixed 50mm f3.5 standard lens. “I never looked back after buying my first Leica,” Bert was to say in later life.

The Cockney photographer went on to create his own developer (a mix of paraphenylene-diamine, metol, glycin and soda sulphite) which he called his ‘super-soup’. By push-processing film in his super-soup Bert could work without flash in lower lighting conditions than most of his competitors.

Not content with his own developer Hardy took a soldering iron to another Leica and customised the shutter so that it could synchronise with flash at 1000th of a second. Bert was no fool. Even today’s Lecia M7 cannot achieve flash synchronisation at such a high speed without an adaptor.

Note: The 'Moore' referred to above was George Moore who had been a photographer with Temple Press from pre-war times. He retired early in 1966 at which time his camera equipment was handed over to his successor, Paul Skilleter of 'Motor' magazine. This was listed as a Leica M4, Mamiya C33 and Mecablitz wet-cell flashgun.

Before Don's talk started, and seeing his old Leica 1 camera, I reminisced with him about the amazing difference between film speeds that were available 50 plus years ago and current digital ISO speeds. We both recalled using Kodachrome colour transparency at 10 ASA (equivalent to ISO 10) and even when this film discontinued production in 2009 the maximum speed available was ISO 200. Even black and white negative film was relatively slow. Fine grain films tended to be rated at 40 or 64 ASA and so-called 'fast' films like Ilford HP4 (from 1965) and Kodak Tri-X were rated at 400 ASA. Films like Tri-X could be push-processed up to 3200 or even 6400 ASA. (Push processing involved special developers - often called soups - and/or extended development times) Further amazing details of Hardy's technique are evident from the following further extract -

Hardy was dispatched to Newcastle where an air raid had been reported. After scratching around he found a dimly lit brick-lined tunnel, “Where nervous people sometimes went at night”. Using the available light from a few strung-out light bulbs Bert took pictures hand-holding his Leica at 1/4 of a second.

On his return to London Hardy took his films to the Criterion darkroom and put them in his super-soup to develop. Knowing the images were underexposed, he doubled his usual processing time from sixteen to thirty minutes.

When Hardy viewed his negatives under a green safelight there was nothing to see. Another half hour in the super-soup produced the faintest of highlights. Frustrated, Bert put the films back in the developer and went to visit his mother across Blackfriars Bridge. He let himself in to her house but as everyone was asleep made himself a cup of tea. He thinks he may have dozed off.

By the time he got back to the darkroom the films had been stewing for four hours, and something of the latent images had finally emerged as dense and very grainy negatives.

Hardy even felt the lighting in the images emanated a Rembrandt-like quality, and so did Picture Post who loved the results of Hardy’s first assignment. Even Life magazine published the photographs.

Because there was no means of synchronisation the earliest flash photography pictures were taken with a technique whereby the shutter was opened, the flash set off, and then the shutter closed. Flash powder or tape was ignited in a tray. The following image shows this in action.

As a young boy I remember helping a school chum to take a group photograph of the cast at the end of a variety show in a village hall in Somerset. I was holding the flash tray and duly let it off when my friend opened his camera shutter. Unfortunately, he had put too much powder in the tray. Only some of it ignited. The remainder was blown upwards and rained down on me and the nearby spectators!

The use of 'open' flash was followed by the introduction of flash guns with large flashbulbs. Initially these used large bulbs filled with foil, as seen in the following photographs, but later with much smaller ones for amateur use.

In order to prevent the fragile glass shattering outwards there was a 'plastic' outer coating. However, they did generate a lot of heat and disposing of the spent bulb before fitting a new one could be problematic. Don described to me how the bulb could be ejected into a leather case to avoid having to touch it! The flash gun could be used in much the same way as the 'open' flash powder technique, but camera models were rapidly introduced that had contacts triggered by the shutter mechanism. This meant that the flash gun was triggered fractions of a second early, to allow the flash brightness to build towards its peak before the shutter opened fully.

Perhaps the most iconic images of flash guns are those that also feature cameras like the Speed Graphic which, as mentioned before, were the weapon of choice for many press photographers. The following photographs show examples, including a group featuring Don, with the variety of camera kit that was in use in that era.

Don made the following comment, I still have, and greatly treasure, my wonderful Speed Graphic which I rate as being THE all time best Press plate camera. Incidentally I have two roll film backs for it and do occasionally drag it out and take a few pictures with it. At different times and jobs I also used to use VN (9 x 12) and various 5 x 4 MPP Press and technical cameras BUT they were not in the same street as the Speed Graphic's.

Depth of field

There are a number of sources on the internet to obtain information on this subject. The examples that were contained in my article came from -

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.htm

This has the advantage that both the lens and the camera on which it is fitted are taken into account. This is important where, for example, a lens intended for a full-frame camera is fitted to one with an APS-C sensor.

Free Nik software

Post-processing elements of software that previously were quite expensive are now available free from Google. Information can be found at the following link -

https://www.google.com/nikcollection/

 

And finally . . . . . .

Does my nose look big in this? (I hope this is a macro lens)